Mission to bring back soil samples from Mars gets 2018 launch

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Boris_Badenov

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<p><font size="3">Mission to bring back soil samples from Mars gets 2018 launch</font></p><p><font size="2">PARIS (AFP) &mdash; Space experts on Wednesday set a date of 2018 for launching the Mars Sample Return mission, billed as the most complex and costliest exploration of the Red Planet ever planned.</font></p><p><font size="2">The unmanned mission aims to pick up soil and rocks from Mars and bring them back to Earth, where big labs can wring far more data from them than by remote control using small instruments on a scout vehicle.</font></p><p><font size="2">"2018 will start the era of Mars Sample Return," Doug Mc Cuistion, director of NASA's Mars Exploration Programme, told a press conference.</font></p><p><font size="2">The preliminary report, issued in Paris by a working group, sketched a mission profile and flight design but also cautioned that many challenges lay ahead.</font></p><p><font size="2">Its authors said that, regardless of the start date, it would take five years for the precious 500-gramme (1.1-pound) sample to be brought back to Earth and space powers had to pool resources to achieve the extraordinary goal.</font></p><p><font size="2">Stephane Janichewski, deputy director of France's National Centre for Space Studies (Cnes) said "at least a transatlantic cooperation" was needed between Europe and the United States to fulfil this "very challenging" project.</font></p><p><font size="2">"It's a sort of (Holy) Grail we are looking for," said Janichewski, referring to the project's scope.</font></p><p><font size="2">In the most optimistic scenario, a US Atlas A 551 rocket would lift off in 2018 carrying a mobile rover -- or alternatively, a non-mobile lander -- that would be dropped down to Mars to pick up samples selected to give the broadest picture possible of the planet's geological past.</font></p><p><font size="2">Included in the package would be a small rocket, a Mars Ascent Vehicle, that would later blast off with the sample onboard.</font></p><p><font size="2">In 2019, a European 5 ECA heavy rocket would take off, sending an orbiter to Mars. The Mars Ascent Vehicle would leave the Red Planet with the sample container and drop it off in Martian orbit, where it would be captured by the orbiter.</font></p><p><font size="2">The orbiter would then start the long haul back to Earth, eventually dropping off the sample in an "Earth Entry Vehicle" designed to survive the fiery descent through the terrestrial atmosphere. It would then be retrieved and analysed.</font></p><p><font size="2">Mars has exerted a fascination for thousands of years, reflected in ancient mythology and superstition.</font></p><p><font size="2">Scientists, too, are engrossed with Mars, as it is the most Earth-like planet in the Solar system.</font></p><p><font size="2">"Of the various places of interest for evaluating whether or not life exists or has existed elsewhere in the Universe, Mars is by far the most accessible," the preliminary planning report noted.</font></p><p><font size="2">The document says the cost would roughly range from 4.5 to eight billion dollars (three to 5.3 billion euros), "depending on the final requirements and international cooperative structure."</font> </p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font color="#993300"><span class="body"><font size="2" color="#3366ff"><div align="center">. </div><div align="center">Never roll in the mud with a pig. You'll both get dirty & the pig likes it.</div></font></span></font> </div>
 
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l3p3r

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Even if we do wait till 2018, and even if it is only an unmanned sample return mission, that would be the greatest thing ever!! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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baulten

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Last I had heard they were expecting mid 2020's.&nbsp; It's great to see it moved forward to 2018.&nbsp; This will, by far, be the most important space mission since the Apollo program.
 
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frodo1008

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>Last I had heard they were expecting mid 2020's.&nbsp; It's great to see it moved forward to 2018.&nbsp; This will, by far, be the most important space mission since the Apollo program. <br /> Posted by baulten</DIV></p><p>It would be great to see both the launch of this important mission and the return of human beings to the moon at about the same time. Both missions are way overdue if you ask me!!&nbsp; And not because of the shuttle or the ISS, just because of the lack of funding for the greatest exploratory efforsst in the history of mankind!</p><p>Hopefully, we will have both a congress and a president (either candidate) that will realize this, and slowly and steadily raise NASA's funding from the pathetic 0.5 % of the federal budget it now is up to at least a somewhat respectable 1 % (which would still only be half as much as during the Apollo era)!!</p><p>Hopefully.....&nbsp;</p>
 
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CalliArcale

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Oh, that is sweet.&nbsp; Hard to wait, though.&nbsp; ;-)&nbsp; Fortunately, there are so many cool missions going on to occupy our collective imagination in the meantime. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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baulten

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>It would be great to see both the launch of this important mission and the return of human beings to the moon at about the same time. Both missions are way overdue if you ask me!!&nbsp; And not because of the shuttle or the ISS, just because of the lack of funding for the greatest exploratory efforsst in the history of mankind!Hopefully, we will have both a congress and a president (either candidate) that will realize this, and slowly and steadily raise NASA's funding from the pathetic 0.5 % of the federal budget it now is up to at least a somewhat respectable 1 % (which would still only be half as much as during the Apollo era)!!Hopefully.....&nbsp; <br /> Posted by frodo1008</DIV></p><p>I agree... unfortunately I do not think either of the candidates will do anything to help.&nbsp; We can always hope, though! </p>
 
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cosmictraveler

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<p><BR/>Replying to:<BR/><DIV CLASS='Discussion_PostQuote'>I agree... unfortunately I do not think either of the candidates will do anything to help.&nbsp; We can always hope, though! <br />Posted by baulten</DIV><br /><br /><font size="4">I don't know whether or not I'll make it until then. Age is getting to me so it is going to very close depending on my health and if it can hold out that long. I'm glad to at least know they are going ahead with this plan for it makes sense to do this mission as it will pave the way for more explorations of different cosmic bodies to actually get a close up of just what it is that is there. </font></p><p><font size="4">Still, rovers will become more advanced and they will be able to do analysis far greater than what they can do now so that we will learn more there instead of having to bring things back home, but bringing them back would be a very huge leap forward to me. </font></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>It does not require many words to speak the truth. Chief Joseph</p> </div>
 
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Mee_n_Mac

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<p>While I don't doubt we could do more analysis on a sample here on Earth than could ever be done in situ, I wonder ....</p><p>With the $$ and mass needed to do this mission, could we instead&nbsp;loft a relatively big, multifunction&nbsp;lab to Mars along with a few rovers or hoppers and get a few (many ?) samples analyzed from sites afar rather than just 1 sample from 1 place.&nbsp; I wonder because MPL is finding out how different (PH for one), depsite some simularities, the soils are from it's area compared to prior landing sites.&nbsp; I wonder if a "wider" analysis rather than a "deeper" one would be better science and whether it could be done along the lines I've suggested.&nbsp; Just a passing thought .....</p><p>(Or is the SAM, and other instruments, on the MSL as good as we can do in situ ?)</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>-----------------------------------------------------</p><p><font color="#ff0000">Ask not what your Forum Software can do do on you,</font></p><p><font color="#ff0000">Ask it to, please for the love of all that's Holy, <strong>STOP</strong> !</font></p> </div>
 
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cosmictraveler

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<p><font size="4">"With the $$ and mass needed to do this mission, could we instead&nbsp;loft a relatively big, multifunction&nbsp;lab to Mars along with a few rovers or hoppers and get a few (many ?) samples analyzed from sites afar rather than just 1 sample from 1 place"</font></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><font size="4">While that is a very true statement we already have rovers taking samples as well as the Phoenix now and there will be more to come. This is an experiment to see if we can actually land on another cosmic object and take off again after retrieving a sample from Mars. As with any of the rovers or other devices it is just one more step in advancing our abilities to send robotic craft out to explore then have them return with interesting samples from wherever they may be sent. Since humans won't be going to Mars for many decades this will be a very giant leap to see if we can go there and return in one piece without the fear of a life being lost. Whatever may happen we will learn a great deal from this experiment and it is worth the time and effort to do this.</font></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>It does not require many words to speak the truth. Chief Joseph</p> </div>
 
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